NASCAR: Dash4Cash an interesting subplot for today’s Nationwide race

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For four NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars, today’s Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, check local listings) will be an opportunity to score a good chunk of change.

Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith (pictured), veteran Jeremy Clements, and rookies Ryan Sieg and Ryan Reed are up for a $100,000 bonus prize as part of the “Dash4Cash” promotion from series sponsor Nationwide Insurance.

The D4C will take place over the next four events, starting with today’s race and then Chicagoland (July 19), Indianapolis (July 26), and Iowa (Aug. 2).

Smith, Clements, Sieg and Reed all qualified for this first round of the D4C by virtue of their results last weekend at Daytona. Smith finished second in a narrow loss to Kasey Kahne, followed by Sieg in third and Reed in fourth, then Clements in eighth.

The highest finisher of this foursome wins the New Hampshire bonus and automatically qualifies for the next D4C round at Chicagoland.

Additionally, the three highest-finishing NNS regulars not already qualified will also get to race for the Chicagoland bonus. Indianapolis and Iowa will work the same way.

Finally, should one driver win the first three D4C bonuses and then win the Iowa race outright, Nationwide will throw in an additional $600,000 prize – bringing the payout for that driver to a even $1 million.

For today’s race at New Hampshire, Smith and Reed will start 12th and 13th respectively. Sieg is a bit farther back at 20th on the grid, while Clements has the worst starting position of the D4C group at 30th.

Smith and Clements just about have the same finishing average in three NNS starts apiece at New Hampshire (Smith is at 19.3, while Clements is at 19.6), while Sieg and Reed are facing New Hampshire for the first time as NNS competitors.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.